Wednesday, July 1, 2020

I Say Po-TAY-To, You Say Po-TAH-To

The original title of this week’s blog post was going to be “The Dumbing Down of the English Language” but then after an interesting discussion I was reminded that we each look at things from different perspectives. (The discussion was on Facebook of course, where else during these days of social distancing do you have the chance to discuss topics with such passion?)
There was a recent article about Houston realtors wanting to formally drop the term “Master”, such as in suite, bedroom, bathroom, etc. from their listings and replacing the term with “Principle”. I immediately thought of the bathroom unit attached to the bedroom my husband and I use; when we bought this house the description called it the Master Suite (aka the Master Bedroom and the Master Bath) and these two units take up one entire side of our home. The other side of our house has two more bedrooms (which we use as a den/office and a guest room) and the Main Bathroom. My first inane thought was how confusing it would be to say the Main Bathroom and the Principle Bathroom! Then of course I started thinking of all the places we could replace the word “Master” — Master’s Degree, Master Chef, Masterpiece, and (sorry) Masturbate…
Then I went on the read the article and learned the reasoning behind the change and I truly felt some guilt for making fun of it. It is the belief that America’s descendants of slaves associate the term Master with their history of slavery and having to serve AND BE OWNED by often cruel Masters. While some part of me still sees no need for the exclusion of the word from realtor listings, another part of me feels a little guilty for not immediately understanding and being sensitive. After reading the explanations and the descriptions of slaves who were both brought here against their will and then subjugated, actually bought and sold, and OWNED by MASTERS, I understand now my need to be sensitive to the horrors and possible triggers of this and other terms.
It isn’t that I wasn’t thinking, I just didn’t understand the perspective that descendants of people who were OWNED and subservient had. I will try better to understand the views, associations, and pain that such terms cause. And if indeed the word is struck from general use then it is my goal to accept it fully. In the end it is all about perspective and it sometimes blurs the right and wrong, but once it’s been pointed out we need to be more considerate of each other.

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